Supreme Court rejects Centreís plea to defer decision
Slashing VIP Hajj Quota
New Delhi, July 27: The Supreme Court has declined to accept the Centre's request to defer till next year its July 23 order curtailing the Government's discretionary quota for Hajj pilgrimage. The court had earlier drastically reduced the VVIP quota from around 5000 seats to 300.
A Division Bench consisting of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai refused to accede to the government plea put forward through Attorney General G E Vahanvati and its counsel Harris Beran seeking deferment of its order till next year.
"We know that the present policy is not perfect. But we do not want to interfere with this yearís policy," Justice Alam observed.
Vahanvati made this submission at the end of the hearing of a bunch of petitions filed by Private Tour Operators (PTOs), who have challenged certain norms fixed by the government for the operators.
It was on July 23 last that Apex Court had drastically reduced the Government's discretionary and dignitariesí quota seats for Hajj 2012 pilgrims to 300 from the proposed 5,050 seats and had hoped they would be allotted on "reasonable basis".
The Court further observed that there could be no monopolization and asked the Centre to frame a fresh PTOs policy for the annual Hajj pilgrimage from next year onwards. It also asked the AG to come out with a new policy for permitting fresh players in private transport sector.
The Division Bench maintained that there was lot of scope for improvement in the Government's present policy. The suggestions and complaints made by various tour operators who have been knocked out of the business on account of certain norms prescribed by the government should be taken into account, the court observed.
The Government norms provide that only those PTOs who had a annual turnover of Rs. one crore for the year 2009 and 2010 were eligible for ferrying pilgrims.
Agreeing that the present policy was not fair, the court asked the AG to come out with a new policy next year to facilitate "fresh players". "It shall not be the monopoly of a few operators. We hope that the next Hajj policy will be framed keeping in view the concerns of this court," the Bench observed.
Earlier, the Court had said that 200 seats would be reserved for the Hajj Committee of India (HCOI) as against the proposed 500. After limiting the seats under dignitaries quota and the HCOI, the bench had said that remaining seats would go to the Hajj committees of various states and union territories.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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